“More than ever before, this is the book our economy needs.” – Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation
“Unwilling to settle for easy answers or superficial changes, O’Leary and Valdmanis push us all to ask more of our economic system.” – Senator Michael F. Bennet
This provocative book takes us inside the fight to save capitalism from itself.
Corporations are broken, reflecting no purpose deeper than profit. But the tools we are relying on to fix them—corporate social responsibility, divestment, impact investing, and government control—risk making our problems worse.
With lively storytelling and careful analysis, O’Leary and Valdmanis cut through the tired dogma of current economic thinking to reveal a hopeful truth: If we can make our corporations accountable to a deeper purpose, we can make capitalism both prosperous and good.
What happens when the sustainability-driven CEO of Unilever takes on the efficiency-obsessed Warren Buffett? Does Kellogg’s—a company founded to serve a healthy breakfast—have a sacred duty to sell sugary cereal if that’s what maximizes profit? For decades, government has tried to curb CEO pay but failed. Why? Can Harvard students force the university to divest from oil and gas? Does it even matter if they do?
O’Leary and Valdmanis, two iconoclastic investors, take us on a fast-paced insider’s journey that will change the way we look at corporations. Likely to spark controversy among cynics and dreamers alike, this book is essential reading for anyone with a stake in reforming capitalism—which means all of us.
Investors O'Leary and Valdmanis debut with a well-informed and idealistic call for a more ethical version of capitalism. The authors identify two competing visions for the American economy a short-term profit-driven model in which corporations are beholden only to shareholders versus a stakeholder framework in which the concerns of customers, employees, and local communities are taken into account and contend that the true measure of capitalism is its ability to lift people out of poverty. Distinguishing genuine corporate social responsibility from marketing initiatives, O'Leary and Valdmanis praise pharmacy chain CVS for banishing tobacco products from its stores in 2014 a move that cost the company billions in sales but aligned with its core values as a health-care business. The authors highlight the attempted 2019 takeover of newspaper publisher Gannett by hedge fund Alden Global Capital as an example of the threat unfettered capitalism poses to journalism, and advocate for people to use their votes, labor, and consumer choices to encourage conscientious behavior in corporations. Though the idea that Fortune 500 companies can be nudged to self-regulate will strike many readers as overly optimistic, O'Leary and Valdmanis offer an astute record of American capitalism's best and worst qualities. Business owners and MBA students will value this helpful guide.